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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter XVIII THE FLYING FISH PLAYS ITS PART
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 Hans led them up through the galleys and pantries into the First Class Dining Saloon without encountering a single soul. They went boldly up the main staircase to the promenade deck, which seemed deserted. A small figure hiding in the shadows ran up to them, and Charlie gripped his friends’ hands.  
“Never mind the thanks,” he whispered. “We’ve got to work fast. There’s an armed seaman at the gangway head. We must quiet him first. Then we’ll take the ship’s boat that’s moored below.”
“Okay, boy.”
Without another word, Bill walked up to the gangway sentry, who immediately brought his rifle to the present.
“There’s rust on that barrel,” growled Bill and held out his hand. “I can see it even in this light.”
“But—but I think,” stammered the sentry, “that my officer is mistaken!” He passed over the gun without suspicion.
Immediately afterward, he found himself in the same dilemma Otto had encountered ten minutes earlier. Tied up and gagged with a handkerchief, he was deposited behind a pile of deck chairs.
His captors wasted no further time. They ran down the gangway and piled aboard the skiff moored to the grating. Hans got out the single pair of oars, Osceola unloosed the painter, and Bill, who seated himself beside Charlie in the stern, steered their small craft away from the ship. There were men on the Amtonia’s bridge but they received no hail to return.
Bill looked about. Although there was no moon, the brilliant starlight gave ample light for him to size up his surroundings. He found that they were floating in a large cove or harbor almost landlocked. The body of water was eggshaped; perhaps a mile long by half that distance in width. The shores were rocky, with black patches of sandy beach. Beyond grew a dense forest, except at one end of the bay, where twinkling lights marked a small settlement. The outlet to the ocean was narrow, and guarded by high cliffs. It was a perfect retreat for the Baron and his pirates.
Charlie piped up in his boyish treble. “The Amtonia’s absolutely hidden by those heads from any ship passing up or down the coast. The harbor entrance makes a right-angled turn half way to the sea. I heard Lieutenant Brinkerhoff say that a warship passed the mouth, going west, about eleven-thirty. The lookout on the head signalled in. Brinkerhoff was laughing about it, I guess it made him feel good.”
“Well, his break is ours now,” declared Bill. “And there’s another one for us!”
He pointed to where the Flying Fish lay moored, with her wings spread, a few hundred yards away.
“It’ll be hot as Tophet in her hull tonight! Row on, Hans. We’re going over there to pay a visit. By the way, does anyone know exactly where we are?”
“Yes, sir,” replied the man, “this harbor is on the coast of Maine. Washington County, I think, sir—not very far from Englishman’s Bay.”
“Good enough! What are those lights yonder?”
“You might call that our private Navy Yard, sir. It’s the Baron’s shore base. He keeps a crew on duty there, while the ships are at sea. There are storehouses, a machine shop, the men’s quarters and a store. It’s ten miles back to the railroad. He owns all the shore acreage hereabouts. A high wire fence shuts in the property from all outsiders. There are one or two big estates up and down the coast, but the nearest house is a good three miles away.”
“How are the roads?”
“There’s no road along the coast, sir. The one from the base runs back to the little town on the railroad. It’s in very bad condition, sir. There is no other way out.”
“Thank you, Hans. You’re a treasure-house of local knowledge.”
“Thank you, sir. May I make a suggestion?”
“Fire away.”
“My brother, August, is deck watch aboard the Flying Fish, sir. Usually, in port, only one man is kept aboard her. August does not like this life. Like me, he was shanghaied into it. Once with this outfit, there is no getting away, unless by a miracle, like tonight, sir. August speaks no English. May I ask him to join us?”
“By all means, Hans. It will save a lot of trouble. Offer him what Mrs. Evans said she would give you. I will see that it is paid.”
“Very good, sir. Thank you, sir.”
They were close to the converted submarine now. On the narrow deck, abaft the motors a man was seated on a camp chair, smoking. He stood up as the boat approached.
Hans hailed him and for several minutes the two brothers hurled harsh gutturals at each other. Bill guessed them to be speaking a low Bavarian dialect of German. He failed to understand a single word of what they said.
“He wants me to thank you—he will come,” Hans asserted presently.
“What a polite family you are—” chuckled Bill. “Let’s get aboard.”
Fifteen minutes later those officers and men who had remained on deck aboard the anchored pirate ship were astonished to see the Flying Fish taxi down the harbor and take the air. A few seconds later her tail lights disappeared into the dark beyond the headlands. Aboard the Amtonia orders were shouted, bells clanged, and presently the whining howl of her siren awoke the echoes of the night.
Half an hour passed. Bill, at the wheel of the Flying Fish, ............
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